Federal Anti-Spam Law Gets Mixed Results
The Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing (CAN-SPAM) Act passed into law by Congress in January of 2004 has not stanched the flow of spam email, which has swelled in volume thanks to spammers’ increasingly sophisticated tactics and their tendency to operate outside of U.S. jurisdiction.
However, advocates say CAN-SPAM has demonstrated its value by establishing a unified architecture for prosecuting spammers that overrides myriad state regulations. Unspam CEO Matthew Prince says this frees up states to devise tougher spamming restrictions that piggyback on CAN-SPAM, which could in turn be embedded in new federal legislation.
FTC staff attorney Katie Harrington-McBride attests that CAN-SPAM also provides guidelines that legitimate emailers can employ to differentiate themselves from spammers; such guidelines include accompanying each email with an opt-out option and a mailing address. Pillsbury Winthrop attorney Cathie Meyer says this strategy would enable legit businesses to target consumers who are genuinely interested in their offerings. The FTC says the opt-out element gives recipients control over the email they get, which was the purpose of CAN-SPAM from the beginning.
“The act is really not drafted in a way to diminish the amount of email that individual consumers receive, but to empower them to limit the flow on a sender-by-sender basis,” maintains Harrington-McBride.
Still, critics such as Internet Mail Consortium director Paul Hoffman lament that spam has increased steadily despite CAN-SPAM’s passage, with the Radicati Group forecasting that worldwide spam messages will have skyrocketed from 15 billion to 35 billion over the past year.
Abstracted by the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center(NLECTC) from Network World (12/13/04) Vol. 21, No. 50, P. 9; Garretson, Cara.